When it comes to teaching, there are several philosophies and words of advice professors give their students. And for Usha Rackliffe, associate professor in the practice of accounting, those words are: substance and style.
“It’s to be good, to do good and to look good,” Rackliffe said. “How you define substance may be different, but to me, this is a form of service. I share what I know, and you have to have that intellectual curiosity. You have to be excited about life and all the possibilities that life offers.”
The bright pink couch in her Emory office is not only evidence of substance, but is a reflection of springtime, tulips and her unique style.
“Students are with us in the springtime of their lives,” she added. “I want students to be comfortable, and I want them to recognize that you don’t have to be very staid and serious all the time. And, I want people to know accounting people are a lot more than numbers people. We have a whole personality, and each of us is different, unique and special.”
In a recent Goizueta Facebook Live presentation, Rackliffe discussed the impact of COVID-19 on financial statements and made the topic relatable to a wide audience.
Before coming to Goizueta, Rackliffe worked as a chief financial officer managing a $7 billion budget for the University System of Georgia. After semi-retiring, she started teaching at Georgia State. But, when the opportunity to teach at Goizueta became available Rackliffe could not turn it down.
“I’ve always wanted to work at Emory,” she said. “I’ve just absolutely loved every minute of every day because we have such extraordinary faculty and extraordinary students.”
She currently teaches a variety of accounting classes across a spectrum of students, including a new class focused on holistic financial planning.
“If accounting were a religion, I’d kind of be the pastor-in-chief. I’m a big believer in spreading the word of personal financial planning because it’s a really big deal.”
Rackliffe considers herself student-oriented, understanding that she has a valuable, part to play in each of her students’ lives.
“I can’t imagine really doing anything else,” she said. “I’ve always loved every job I’ve ever had, but this one is something extraordinarily special. I’m so blessed to be in this place, and I’m so fortunate to learn stuff from students. This business of being curious about life, it’s very new. It never gets old.”